Korean Forum Non-Convenience Law on Int’l Jurisdiction

The main law that governs international jurisdiction over cases in Korean courts is Korea’s Private International Law Act. A major amendment to the Act became law in July 2022. The prior law was criticized for leaving too much discretion to courts and not providing detailed rules regarding the application of international jurisdictional norms to Korean jurisprudence.

The prior Korean Private International Law Act contained, only, one Article related to jurisdiction, while the present act contains 35 details provisions on international jurisdiction. One of the major revisions is the implementation of the Forum Non-Conveniens Doctrine to Korea’s Private International Law Act.

Korea’s Forum Non-Conveniens Doctrine

One of the major welcomed enhancements to Korea’s Private International Law is the addition of the Forum Non-Conveniens doctrine. This doctrine, which is the norm in most developed legal systems, is a doctrine that in certain cases courts should decline to exercise jurisdiction where another court may more effectively hear a case. While, Korean courts have, on occasion, exercised its discretion in not hearing cases for Forum Non-Conveniens-like reasons, this is the first facial application of the doctrine in Korea’s statutory law on international jurisdiction.

Therefore, even if the jurisdiction of the court is deemed by the Korean court to exist, a Korean court under Article 12 of Korea’s Private International Law Act may decide to stay or dismiss the proceeding “where there clearly exists exceptional circumstances, in which a Korean court is inappropriate to exercise its international jurisdiction and a foreign court with international jurisdiction is more suited to resolve the dispute at issue.”

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